Ramaphosa to address nation on ‘expanded’ COVID-19 economic, social relief

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/SA Government

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation on Tuesday evening (21 April) on “expanded” COVID-19 economic and social relief measures, the Presidency has announced.

In a statement, the Presidency said the address’ exact time will be confirmed during the course of the day.

“The President’s address flows from recent deliberations at Cabinet, the National Coronavirus Command Council, the President’s Coordinating Council, and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), among others,” it said.

R1-trillion package on the cards?

Although the government has won praise for its public health response to the pandemic, it has faced criticism for its slower response to the pandemic’s economic impact.

There is growing speculation that Ramaphosa may announce a R1-trillion economic recovery package to rescue several key sectors.

Matthew Parks, the parliamentary coordinator for labour federation COSATU, attended the NEDLAC meeting where Ramaphosa reportedly presented the proposal.

Speaking to Business Maverick over the weekend, he said, “The President has been calling for a massive R1-trillion stimulus fund, which we agree with completely because the economy is already in a recession and unemployment numbers will rise.”

‘Whatever it takes’

The African National Congress (ANC) National Working Committee (NWC) also held a meeting on Monday and mandated the government to do “whatever it takes” to rescue the economy.

Sources similarly said Ramaphosa hinted at a R1-trillion package during the meeting, according to a TimesLIVE report.

The ANC NWC also expressed support for a “minimum income support grant” for South Africans who have been hard hit by the pandemic.

In a statement late on Monday, ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said, “There must be targeted support for the unemployed. In this regard, the extended NWC supports the proposal of the Alliance Political Council that government must look at a minimum income support grant that covers those currently falling outside of social grants, particularly informal workers and the unemployed.”

The SA Reserve Bank estimates that South Africa’s economy will contract by more than 6 percent in 2020 because of the five-week lockdown.

The government has said it will begin a “risk-adjusted” approach towards lifting the lockdown at the end of April.

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